My beloved Dutch oven has been working overtime lately. A couple weeks ago, I stayed up late with a bubbling pot of my first attempt at homemade chicken stock. I’ve made ribollita a couple times since the holidays, and last night we polished off the last of a white bean, bacon, and collard green soup. Then it was on to Hugh Acheson’s Sweet Onion Soup With Caraway and Croutons. It’s soup season! And this sweet onion soup is a standout.
The recipe is below so you can get right to it, but you can also read more about this excellent soup in my latest column for the Tampa Bay Times.
Sweet Onion Soup With Caraway and Croutons
A lighter version of onion soup that elevates the humble onion.
Serves 4 to 6.
¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 ½ pounds sweet onions, cut into ½-inch-thick slices
1 cup minced celery
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 bay leaf
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
Coarse sea salt
Rye bread, diced into ½-inch cubes, about 1 cup
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon caraway seeds, toasted
In a heavy, medium-sized pot (I like to use my Dutch oven), melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring regularly, until they become fragrant, golden and caramelized.
Add the celery and cook for 5 more minutes. Bundle up the thyme, parsley and bay leaf in some kitchen twine and toss that in, too. Add the chicken stock. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Stir in the cream. Season the soup with a pinch of salt and remove the herb bundle. Remove the pot from the heat and get ready to puree. An immersion blender makes this easy work. Simply stick the blender in the pot and blitz everything until smooth. Or, set up your blender with a clean pot next to it. Rest a conical sieve in the empty pot. Arm yourself with a small ladle for pushing the soup through the sieve into said clean pot. Puree the soup in batches and pour it through the sieve into the empty pot. (You can omit the straining if you want to go in a more rustic direction.) Taste the soup and adjust seasoning with salt if necessary.
In a small bowl, toss the bread cubes with the olive oil. Place a handful in a small saute pan and toast over medium-high heat until crisp. Keep an eye on them. They go from golden brown to burnt quickly. Remove croutons from heat and set aside on a plate. Repeat with remaining bread cubes.
Ladle the hot soup into bowls and garnish each one with a pinch of toasted caraway seeds, croutons and a small sprig of parsley.
(Recipe from The Broad Fork: Recipes for the Wide World of Vegetables and Fruits by Hugh Acheson.)